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2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 3: Giroux perfect example of Flyers’ resiliency

Image (1) Giroux-thumb-200x300-12825.jpg for post 1918

If we didn’t know it before, then we sure as heck know it now: the Philadelphia Flyers are one of the most the resilient teams we’ve ever seen in the postseason. At the heart of this team is a group of determined forwards, who may not be the biggest stars in the NHL and certainly don’t get as much attention as Jeff Carter, Dan Carcillo or Mike Richards, but who are more important to the Flyers’ success than any other.

Claude Giroux, Danny Briere and Ville Leino have lifted this team up and placed them squarely on their own backs. In every deep postseason run you need role players to step up and play the best hockey of their lives, but I don’t think anyone anticipated the level these three have reached.

They don’t play together, at least not all of the time, but these three have been the difference in the postseason for the Flyers. Giroux, who scored just 16 goals in 82 regular season games, now has 8 goals and 17 points in the playoffs. He’s scored big goal after big goal, and none has ever been bigger than his tipped goal that came 5:59 into the first overtime.

With that tip, coming off a great play by Matt Carle at the point and perfect anticipation by Giroux, the Flyers avoided a 3-0 hole in the series and made things very interesting heading into Game 4.

“It’s huge. I don’t think guys want to do a comeback again from 3-0.” Giroux said. “So it was tough losing the first two games. If we want to give us a chance to win the Series, we need to win this game tonight. The message was pretty clear before the game, and guys showed up.”

Giroux played some inspiring hockey against the Bruins and the Canadiens, but had disappeared a bit in the first two games of the series. There was no doubt that if the Flyers would pull off a comeback, they’d need better play from the players a bit farther down the depth chart. Giroux says that’s something he and his teammates were focused on after the two games in Chicago.

“Anytime you’re not producing or playing well, you are just going to keep it simple and go back just working hard. I think we did that, and we tried to win as many battles as we could.”

Coach Laviolette says that Giroux was perhaps pressing too much, playing too tight as he played in his first Stanley Cup finals. With the series now back at home, the Flyers focused on just playing their game in front of their home crowd, something that seemed to help Giroux in the end.

“We talked about just having some fun tonight, come out and letting everything roll,” Laviolette said after the game. “Go after him, and I think he took that advice, because he was smiling all day. He came to the rink and went out and played a great game. Sometimes you need to loosen up a little bit. He’s a talented kid.”

Giroux, Briere and Leino all made tremendous plays tonight, but for them it was just the same thing they’ve done all postseason long. None of the players seemed overly excited about the win or their plays, instead wanting to immediately focus on Game 4 and evening up the series.

Leino in particular has come to life for the Flyers, and is perhaps the biggest surprise of the playoffs. After the game he was soft spoken and humble, saying that the Flyers “know exactly what we have to do” and that for them this is just business as usual.

All postseason long the Flyers have found ways to overcome adversity of any and every sort, but it’s something the Flyers have become accustomed to. Laviolette believes that his team is at it’s best when their backs are against the the wall.

“It’s been for a long time. Like I said this morning, 2-0 for us is comfortable. We’re okay with that. We know how to battle through it. We knew how important the game was tonight. Once we wake up tomorrow morning, we know we have to hold serve on home ice. I think the guys will be fine with that.”

This morning, the Flyers were one hell of a confident bunch and it seemed as if they reveled in the fact they were facing a must-win situation. They were calm and business like, yet loose and never acted like a team that was down two games in the Stanley Cup finals. Yet no matter what the circumstances, no matter how matter of fact the Flyers are about this win, there’s no doubting how big that goal was for Claude Giroux. This is one he’s going to remember for a long time, yet he’s still focused on the task at hand.

“It’s obviously a big goal. It’s probably my biggest goal in my career,” he said with a grin.

“I’m happy I was able to do that. As quick as we can put this game behind us and be ready for game 4, it’s going to be huge. There’s a lot of emotion tonight. But I think it’s important that we just focus and be ready for game 4.”